By Robyn Molloy
A workplace health check followed by a structured program to improve weak spots – such as sedentary working and unhealthy food options – can see organisations and staff reaping immediate benefits.
The free Healthier Workplace WA program run by Cancer Council WA makes workplace health easy for employers to establish, and highlights that for every dollar an employer invests in health promotion over a three-year period, return-on-investment ranges from $1.40 to $4.70.
Information communication company R-Group International has been implementing the program since 2016 by gradually adopting healthier options.
The company has two healthy workplace coordinators – Katelyn Clune and Amy Henstock – who have led the charge for the Bentley-based team and say the benefits have been worth the effort to get the program up and running.
By adopting more healthy options each year, the company has moved from bronze to a silver recognised healthy workplace and now has gold recognition in its sights.
The levels acknowledge the longevity and comprehensiveness of the program.
“We established a committee and grabbed people from different teams to have a spokesperson from different departments,” Clune says.
“We did the coordinator training which gave us an overview of how to have a healthy workplace, as well as online training models, so it was all pretty straight forward.
“Healthier Workplace WA helped us kick it off and we communicated with staff about what they wanted to see and what the barriers were to healthy choices.”
Clune says information gathered from staff covered issues such as smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity. They then drafted an action plan and started feeding the changes into the company’s policies.
“For nutrition we’ve incorporated healthier options in terms of catering for events by offering free fruit and healthy snacks for the staff to choose from. For alcohol, we don’t use it as a gift, so that sort of thing,” she says.
Clune says one of the biggest problems identified by staff was the sedentary nature of their work.
“That was one of our biggest things, trying to break out of being stuck behind a computer all day, so we incorporated sit-stand desks on a trial basis for staff feedback, started lunchtime yoga and a walking group, and make sure we hold our committee meetings outside in the fresh air.”
Clune says the response from staff has been positive.
“We have found now that we have taken this on board we are getting a lot more ideas put forward. It’s been really positive. Obviously, you can’t get everyone to jump on board but for the most part people have.”
Perth Mint has also been running the program for three years and this year was awarded silver recognition.
General Manger, People and Culture Jane King says the focus of the company’s wellness plan was to ‘create physical and mental awareness amongst employees’ on areas they identified as of interest.
Cancer Council WA Healthier Workplace coordinator Seng Sengsourinho says the workplace is an ideal setting for health promotion as it is where full-time workers spend a third of their day.
“Prevention is better than cure and it is known that at least a third of all cancers can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle,” she says.
Sengsourinho says research shows implementing a health and wellbeing program in the workplace can lead to productivity increasing by 29 per cent, worker’s overall health increasing by 24 per cent and a reduction in absence due to sickness by 20 per cent.
In WA, 65 workplaces have received recognition through the program including nine bronze, 23 silver and 33 gold. For more information visit here.
► R-Group International, Perth Mint and Cancer Council WA are proud CCIWA Members. Find out more about memberships here.